South Korea, the United States and Japan plan to hold their joint naval search and rescue exercise later this month involving a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, military officers said Wednesday.
The trilateral Search and Rescue Exercise, or SAREX, is slated for July 21-22 in international waters south of South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju, a Joint Chiefs of Staff officer here said. He refused to be identified.
The naval exercise has been held once or twice a year so far on humanitarian grounds, he said, adding the last such trilateral drills took place in the country's southern sea in October.
The exercise will mobilize the USS George Washington, three ships and aircraft from the U.S.; two navy vessels and a maritime aircraft from South Korea; and a vessel and an aircraft from Japan, according to the officer.
Ahead of the drill, the nuclear-powered 97,000-ton supercarrier is set to arrive in the country's southern city of Busan on Friday as part of its routine port call to the peninsula, according to the U.S. Forces Korea.
Forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, the George Washington Strike Group, which belongs to the U.S. 7th Fleet, has approximately 6,000 sailors assigned to its ships, including embarked battle staff, a carrier air wing and the ship's company personnel.
Described as a floating military base, it is expected to come to South Korea with some 70 aircraft that include the strike fighter Super Hornet, the all-weather airborne early warning aircraft Hawkeye and the multi-mission helicopter Sea Hawk.
During the visit, U.S. Navy personnel will also "have the opportunity to engage with their South Korean Navy counterparts, and participate in cultural exchanges and community relations events with local citizens," the USFK added.
Separately, Seoul and Washington plan to hold their six-day joint training to practice landing operations in western and southern waters of the Korean Peninsula.
"The training will mobilize the South Korean Navy's two Aegis ships along with the U.S. aircraft carrier, two cruisers and its Aegis ship for diverse operations, including interception and airborne ones," a Navy officer said.
"It is a routine training when a U.S. aircraft carrier makes a port call here," he added.
North Korea, however, has condemned the U.S. for bringing the high-profile ships near its waters. (Yonhap)